Saturday, April 2, 2011

Altamont Augie

Title: Altamont Augie
Author: Richard Barager
ISBN: 978-0983066101
Publisher: Interloper Press

Turn the clock- reverse the hands of time and relive a time period – volatile- the 60’s when was protesters were commonly seen or heard throughout our college campuses and one war: The Vietnam War created and spurred controversy, dissention and an era that was marked with Hippies, national horror. Many believe that the war was wrong and others felt it their patriotic duty to fight. Altamont Augie brings to light these issues and much more as many young men became conscientious objects and readily fled to Canada while some outwardly protested, as anti-war protest movements were often the norm during this explosive time.
One man, Caleb Levy, carried a photo in his hand of an unidentified man who plunged to his death during the Alamont Augie Concert. Why would this young man, with everything to live for plunge to his death and once again become anonymous to the world? Why did Caleb Levy want to find the answer to this question? In the photo was his mother at a much younger age and many truths lie within the picture that is uncovered. Confronting her creates a whole new shift in time for the reader as the hands of time go back as the author brilliantly takes us on a journey of not one but two young men that will forever be indelibly inked in your mind. Caleb Levy and David Noble two men searching for answers and only one will survive.

As we enter the 60’s we meet our protagonist, David Noble and learn more about this young man who never felt part of the world being tosses around from foster home to foster home feeling and having no real roots. College seemed the answer and meeting Jackie Lundquist hopefully would fulfill other needs too. As our filmmaker, Caleb tells us the story and wants to learn more about this unidentified man, we hear his words and soon, David’s and the connection will become apparent as I review Altamont Augie by Richard Barager.

The year is 1966 as David and Caleb’s father Kyle meets in school and both come to verbal blows about their opinions of the war, American policies and much more. As David Noble meets Jackie Lundquist two people in love yet on opposites of the spectrum. One fighting for freedom for his country and other the Radical Queen or anti-war protester who is against all that he stands for and is working toward a different end both passionate about their beliefs. As David joins the marines, Jackie feels betrayed and this is where the past meets the present as we get to know Kyle Levy, Caleb’s father who she becomes involved with and who is against the war, against everything David stands for and much more.

 Enter the trenches, hear the guns and feel the pain of the explosions inflicted on so many who gave their lives for others in a war that spurred national attention, dissention in our schools, takeovers on our campuses and fear in the hearts and minds of many. One man’s hope to fight for his beliefs, his friend Beau who gave his life for him and those they left behind, coming home to find his girlfriend in a separate war of her own with a man whose beliefs were the opposite of his. Sharing the one woman, living by her demands and rules, all because he wanted to feel needed, no longer anonymous and become visible

Enter Clarence Madison, a young black student whose outlook matched David’s yet he could not express it in front of his brethren. A time when civil rights, segregation and the treatment of blacks was also in the forefront this book brings to light many other issues besides the war in Vietnam, political differences and students unrest.  Shifting her allegiance between both, different causes and different events, Jackie becomes a valued member of Kyle’s causes, yet allowing herself to see David even though it would go against what the Students for a Democratic Society stands for.
David Noble cared so much for Jackie he would risk everything to get her back. Just how far he would go you have to learn for yourself. With a see-saw relationship with her that had its ups and downs pitting her allegiance between both Kyle and David at it suited her needs, Jackie’s actions would prove to change the course of one man’s life and later another.

Altamont Augie: One man meets his death. Drink laced with LSD one man goes on a psychedelic trip envisionng images of his past, present and riding and acid wave seeing fictional characters from literary works, reliving incidents, scaling and plunging to his death? Who is to blame for his death? The war, his beliefs or the one person he cared about the most? Why did he jump and who laced his drink you need to learn the facts for yourself, decide where the blame lies if forgiveness should be granted. One unnecessary death, one war that divided a country and so many, one-man filmmaker who would not stop until he honored the memory of this unidentified man. An ending so riveting and book that kept me glued to the text, story from start to finish that I read it in one day. A war so many felt unnecessary, shame and honor: Which falls on David and which on Kyle? Well researched, characters that are well defined and an era that reminds us of how far we have come and how much farther we still need to go when understanding others, tolerance and one man who would no longer be anonymous. Outstanding novel and I am honored to have reviewed it.

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